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Damon is stunned to discover his girlfriend is a shifter, and scared to ...
Damon is stunned to discover his girlfriend is a shifter, and scared to death of the dangers the implant poses to Alex's health. He refuses to abandon Alex, but what about their relationship? Damon is straight, and with the implant both costly and dangerous to remove, Alex is stuck as a man.
Stripped of half his identity and facing serious physical and social ramifications, Alex needs Damon more than ever, but he doesn't see how they can get through this.
Especially if he's static forever.
When my girlfriend's cell phone went straight to voice mail for the fourth time in twenty-four hours, "worried" didn't even begin to describe it.
I paced beside my kitchen table, eyeing my phone like it might suddenly spring to life with her ringtone the way I'd been begging it to. Alex had planned to visit her estranged parents yesterday, and after those get-togethers, it wasn't unusual for her to hole up in the house and block out the world for a while. I always worried myself sick when she did that—the woman could drink like nobody's business when she was upset—but the next morning always meant a text message saying she was okay. Hungover, probably depressed as hell, but okay.
This morning, that text hadn't come.
More than likely, things hadn't gone well. They never did. I'd told myself all day long that she just needed some space, some time. I didn't want to crowd her, but damn it, something about this raised the hairs on the back of my neck.
I looked at my watch. It was almost eight. Over thirty-six hours since she was supposed to meet them. Almost forty-eight since I'd heard from her at all. Something was wrong. It had to be.
I grabbed my phone and keys. Hopefully she'd be irritated with me showing up at her door. Annoyed by the intrusion, aggravated by me coming to her before she was ready to interact with the outside world again. At least that would mean she was home safe.
I pulled out of the driveway and ignored the posted speed limit. We lived about twenty minutes apart, and I was determined to get there in under fifteen. Ten if I could swing it.
I'd never met Alex's family. She'd told me little about them, but just the way her hackles went up at the mere mention of her parents' existence spoke volumes. It wouldn't have surprised me if they had abused her when she was young, and not just in the emotional, manipulative ways I assumed they still did. She was prone to unpredictable bouts of deep depression, which had been more frequent and severe in the last six months or so, and not just after she'd seen her family. She went through phases—hours, days, weeks —when she'd balk at any suggestion of physical intimacy. Sometimes she didn't mind an affectionate touch, but recoiled at the first hint of anything sexual. An arm around her could make her melt against me or shrink away like a beaten dog, and I never knew when to give her space and when to give her a shoulder.
Then, almost overnight, she'd be insatiable in bed. Whenever I asked her about it, she clammed up. Apologized, avoided my eyes, changed the subject.
What did they do to you, baby?
Turning down Alex's street, I took a few deep breaths and willed my pounding heart to slow down. She was fine. Probably drunk and upset, but no more worse for wear than the last time she'd seen her mother and stepfather. I was overreacting. I was being too protective.
Or maybe I wasn't.
Her house came into view up ahead. Her car was parked in front of the garage, and the faint glow of a single lamp illuminated her living room window. There were no other cars in the driveway or on the street, so presumably she was alone. Assuming, of course, that she was home. Someone else could have driven her somewhere, or she—
Easy, Damon. Don't jump to conclusions yet.
Heart still pounding, I parked beside her car. On my way up to the porch, I hesitated, wondering for the hundredth time if she'd be upset with me showing up when she clearly didn't want to see anyone.
After almost turning back twice, I made myself get all the way to the front porch, and before I could find another reason to talk myself out of it, I knocked. Waited. Craned my neck a little, listening for movement on the other side of the door.
My heart beat faster. I knocked again, harder this time.
I rocked back and forth from my heels to the balls of my feet, staring at the door and wondering if I should give it one more try or leave. In my coat pocket, my keys ground against each other as I ran my thumb back and forth over them. Her house key was on the ring. I could let myself in. Damn it, where was the line between caution and intrusion?
One more try, and if she doesn't answer, I'll go.
Knock. Knock. Knock. Silence.
I exhaled hard, a knot twisting in my gut. She wasn't here. Or she wasn't answering. Whatever the case, I wasn't going to stand here all night, so I turned to go.
Movement inside the house stopped me in my tracks. I froze, listening, and the muffled sound of approaching footsteps sent a cool rush of relief through my veins.
The dead bolt turned. I exhaled.
Then the door opened, and that relief turned to something else. Something much colder.
"Who the—" Confusion and fury slithered through my veins as I stared at the man on the other side of the threshold. He leaned on the door and rested his arm on the doorframe. Vague surprise flickered across his expression and straightened his posture, but the heavy fatigue in his eyes kept his reaction subdued. I wondered if he was drunk. Or maybe he'd been asleep. In my girlfriend's bed. That was all too likely, I realized. He was pale, sleepy-eyed, dressed only in a pair of gray sweatpants, and his short hair was disheveled enough to imply far more than I ever wanted to know.
Alex, baby, tell me you didn't ...
I found my voice again. "Who the fuck are you?"
Barely whispering, barely even keeping his eyes open, he said, "You might want to sit down for this. Come in and—"
"Just tell me what the fuck is going on."
He flinched, closing his eyes. "I can explain." His voice was quiet. "This isn't what it looks like. Not even close."
I laughed bitterly. "Oh, I'm sure it's not." With every word, the barely contained fury rose, as did my volume. "I suppose you're just keeping her company? Where the fuck is she? Where—"
"You ... you know who I am?"
"Yes, I do." His hand went to his temple, and he grimaced as he whispered, "Please don't shout. You're upset. I get it. I understand, and I'll explain, but ..." He winced. "Please. Don't. Shout."
Anger made me want to grab his shoulders and show him the meaning of the word "shout," but I held back. Quieter now, I said, "What's going on?"
He stepped back and gestured for me to come in. I hesitated, but then followed him into Alex's house. He closed the door and leaned against it, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his hands. A low, pained sound escaped his throat. The light in here was dim, but not enough to hide just how pale he was.
"Are you—" I eyed him. "Are you all right?"
"No." Lowering his hands, he rested his head against the door. Dark circles under his eyes and a dusting of five-o'clock shadow along his jaw only served to emphasize his alarming pallor. After a moment, he opened his eyes. He winced and brought his hands up again. "This is going to sound weird, but bear with me. I need to lie down."
"Because when I stand, my head hurts so bad I can't see straight." With what looked like a hell of an effort, he pushed himself off the door, paused when his balance wavered, then started toward the living room. I wasn't sure if I should be impatient or concerned. But at this point, he was the only one who might know where Alex was, so I followed him.
As he walked ahead of me, I noticed a small white bandage in the middle of his back. Perhaps two inches square, taped in place over his spine a few inches above his waistband. My own spine prickled with goose bumps. Contrasting sharply with his pale skin was a smear of something brownish-red. I thought it might be blood at first, but even in the dim light, it looked too orange. Iodine, maybe? The remnants of something used to sterilize skin before a medical procedure?
Eyeing the bandage and the iodine and this stranger in my girlfriend's house, I wasn't sure this situation could get any weirder.
He eased himself onto Alex's couch like he had every right to do so, and I took a seat in the recliner. For a long moment, he kept a hand over his eyes and didn't speak. He took a few long, deep breaths, jaw clenched and cheek rippling as if trying to keep himself from getting sick. I might have suspected he was severely hungover, had it not been for that bandage.
I waited. A million demands, accusations, and pleas for information were on the tip of my tongue, but I waited.
Without lifting his hand, he finally spoke in a low, slurred monotone. "None of this is going to be easy for you to hear, and I'm sorry I didn't explain it a long time ago."
I blinked. A long time ago? I'd never seen this guy in my life. Just how long had this been going on? Was he the reason she didn't want to get married? I bit my tongue, though. Let him explain, then get pissed.
"Damon, I'm a shifter."
My heart stopped. "What?"
He swallowed. "I'm a shifter. This"—he gestured at himself with the hand that wasn't shielding his eyes—"is my male form."
Confusion kept the pieces from falling into place for several long seconds. Then those pieces did fall into place, and the air left my lungs in a single exhalation.
No way. No fucking way. But, how? She was ...
I somehow managed to pull in another breath.
"Alex?" I whispered, almost choking on her name.
With a single, slow nod, he jerked the world out from under my feet. Had I not already been sitting, my knees would have buckled. I sat back against the recliner. Two years. Two damned years together, and I'd never caught on. She'd never said a word.
Fuck, this wasn't going to fit into my head. Not for a while, anyway. I didn't know how to feel. Furious? More confused than before? Relieved to find out she was all right—well, sort of—and she hadn't been cheating? Deceived? I didn't know. I was simply ... numb. Stunned.
He took a deep breath. "This isn't how I wanted you to find out."
"You're ..." Skepticism, suspicion, maybe a little denial worked their way into the tangle of emotions. "How do I know it's you?"
The hand over his eyes didn't move. "Giving a foot massage relaxes you almost as much as it does whoever's getting the massage." His bare foot rubbed against the other, toes curling like Alex's always did whenever I suggested giving her such a massage.
I gulped. Leaning forward and resting my elbows on my knees, I said, "She could have told you that."
"The night we met, you were so scared to ask me to dance, by the time you'd worked up the nerve, you were almost too drunk to string a coherent sentence together."
Normally that memory made me laugh. Alex, too. No one in the room cracked a smile.
I cleared my throat. "She could have told you that, too."
He drew a ragged breath. In an equally unsteady voice, he said, "You just found out why I've changed the subject whenever you've brought up getting married, and right now, you have your hands folded so tight in front of your lips that your knuckles are turning white." He lifted his hand off his eyes and looked at me.
I unfolded my hands and let them fall to my lap, pretending not to notice as the blood rushed back into my fingers.
He rested his forearm over his eyes. "I'm sorry, Damon. I'm sorry I didn't tell you."
I swallowed hard. "But, why now? You've always been female around me, but ..."
Alex clenched his jaw, his lips thinning into a taut line. When he spoke, his voice threatened to crack. "Because I can't shift now."
A sick feeling churned in my gut. "Why not?"
"An implant," he said through his teeth. "In my spine." The bandage on his back flashed through my mind. "My parents, they ..."
Oh, God ... "What?"
"They forced me to get it. Drugged me. Said it was for my own good. By the time I knew what was going on, I was too doped up to fight back."
"Oh, my God. But, why would they force it on you?"
"Because I'm an abomination," he growled. For the first time since I'd arrived, he abandoned the quiet monotone he must have maintained to keep the pain at bay. "Ever since the implants came out on the market, my parents have been trying to badger me into getting one. They've always hated what I am, and it's—" He swallowed hard and then took a deep breath. Held it. Let it out. Drew another. Then he muttered, "Shit," and put a hand to his mouth. He flew to his feet and down the hall, and when he got to the bathroom, I cringed at the sound of him getting sick.
I rubbed the back of my neck, grimacing for him and trying to get my head around all of this. It didn't help that his condition had him unusually subdued and, aside from the sprint to the bathroom, moving in damn near slow motion. I could only imagine the emotional toll this was taking on him, and my presence was no doubt compounding his stress, but he was in too much pain to show it. It would have been hard enough to reconcile the Alex I knew with the one in front of me without pain muting her personality.
A moment later, about the time I'd stood to go see if he was okay, Alex returned. When he stepped into the faint light, my stomach flipped. His alarming pallor was worse than earlier.
"You okay?" I asked.
"Yeah," he said. "Fuck, sorry about that."
"Nothing to be sorry about." I stepped toward him. "Need a hand?"
He made a dismissive gesture and pushed himself away from the wall. "No, I can make it."
"Is this a normal side effect? Of ... what they did?"
"I don't know. It's been—" He stumbled, catching himself on an end table. I grabbed his arm. When he'd more or less regained his balance, I held him steady while he eased himself back onto the couch.
"You sure you're all right?"
"I don't know," he whispered hollowly. "This headache, it's unreal. It started last night, and it just keeps getting worse." He cleared his throat and winced. "It's like the worst migraine I've ever had, times ten."
I winced. "Jesus. Can you take anything?"
"Nothing's helped. Anything I've been able to hold down hasn't done a damned thing." He laughed humorlessly. "I thought about drinking, but figured I shouldn't add a hangover to the mix."
I pursed my lips. That was a hint of the Alex I knew. Her drinking had worried me for some time, and it didn't surprise me at all to hear she—he—was tempted to drink now. The fact that he hadn't given in to that temptation was more than a little worrisome.
"At least when I lay perfectly still and flat, it's better," he said. "Not much, but better. But every time I get up ..."
"Would turning off the rest of the lights help?"
"Doubt it. I've been in the bedroom all day with the lights off, and it hasn't done much."
"Maybe we should take you to the emergency room. Just to make sure it's nothing serious."
I expected him to fight it. The Alex I'd known the last couple of years had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the doctor, never mind the ER. This Alex just released a breath and gave a subtle nod. Either this was a sign that the man in front of me wasn't really Alex, or this headache was bad enough to make even Alex think something was wrong. Neither option loosened the knots in my gut.
"Let's go then," I said softly. "Can you make it out to the car?"
"Yeah, I think so." He started to get up but groaned and lay back again.
"I can call an ambulance. That might—"
"No. I can make it. Just ..." He swallowed. "Just let me lay here for a minute."
He was right, he made it. By the time he got from the couch to the car, he was near tears from pain, and I wondered a few times if an ambulance was a better idea after all. As he stretched across the backseat, though, it occurred to me that waiting for an ambulance would mean waiting. By the time the paramedics got here, we could have been halfway to the ER. That, and he was in the car now. No sense dragging him back into the house.
No paramedics, then. I turned on the engine and backed out of Alex's driveway. I drove as fast as I could without jarring him, cringing on his behalf whenever I had to make a turn or slow to a stop.
The whole way to the emergency room, neither of us spoke. Aside from the occasional groan, Alex was completely silent. A few times, I thought he might ask me to pull over so he could puke again, but he didn't.
In between worrying about him and watching the road, I tried to comprehend this whole situation.
A shifter? Alex? All this time, I'd assumed she was a woman. And she was. A woman and a man. It wasn't that I'd never known a shifter, or that I assumed every shifter was out in the open about it, but after two years together, I didn't know?
Excerpted from Static by L.A. Witt, Carole-ann Galloway. Copyright © 2014 L.A. Witt. Excerpted by permission of Riptide Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted April 8, 2014
I want to just say that this book reaffirmed my stance on women writing male/male love stories. Now Im not saying a woman cant write a beautifully written love story between two men. I am definitely not saying that. But it seems as though us "women" put as little research to the dynamics of a true queer love story.
Static has a slight paranormal feeling. Extreme emphasis on slight. In this book there are humans who can shift genders who are known as "shifters." Ironically they are apart of the queer community and are hated on as much as someone transgender, but they are not quite transgender. The main character Alex finds herself drugged, and with an implant from her "God-Fearing mother and step dad" and sketchy pastor that prevents her from shifting genders. She find herself "static" a term to describe someone who can not shift, or heterosexual/cis gender and 100% male. She is not ashamed of her body, but this comes to a surprise to her boyfriend of 2 years Damon. He had no idea she was a shifter, and him not being attracted to men, they have no idea where their relationship is headed.
Can I say that these types of books are an actual insult to the transgender identity. The initial synopsis of this book intrigued me, but I had to shake my head laughing almost every other chapter.
The pacing is ok, I mean it's not life changing but it works. My main issue is with the plot itself. I think the plot would have taken more research had Alex been actually transgender and not some made up term for someone who can shift between both. I wont claim to know a whole lot about transgender identity, but I sure as hell know it aint this.
The world building behind the story just reaffirms that default(white, straight, cis gender, you know the drill) writers just take issues that actual marginalized groups have to experience, and turn around and make profit for it.
I didnt find Alex that relatable. I wish I did, but my main issue with her? She had a type of privilege that she hid behind, and didn't even know it. Being a shifter allowed her to "blend" , or rather keep her privilege. I dont deny that in this story she had it difficult, but as a shifter, when she was female she was 100% female, when male, the same. She thought she was being so revolutionary for "choosing" to be female in a male dominated world, but really all she did was cower and hide to keep her white, straight, cis gender privilege.
Her male form? Was gay. Because she was attracted to men, it carried over to her male side, so she was a straight woman, but a gay male between switches. I had to wonder what this story wouldve been like had Alex been someone dealing with being actually transgender.
I could've seen this book from a whole new light had it been from her boss' point of view, someone actually transgender. And the fact Alex continued to show her privilege by pointing out Tabby's "strange" relationship with her parents. As if it's so out of the ordinary for parents to love their children regardless of sexual orientation/identity. I will admit it isn't easy. But give humanity some credit. Not everyone hates queer people, and it isn't easy to deal with, but parents deal with it because they love their children. I don't think having a close relationship despite being transgender is so out of the ordinary.
Damon? Hmm...It is also told from his perspective, which I liked. I love dual perspectives, but I just think he's not fleshed out well enough for me to be in love with him. He's extremely noble, and that's saying a lot considering our society of the brain washing of men to be a certain way. But this whole "Gay For You" storyline is....it's just an insult to anyone who is actually going through this. Im not saying it could never happen, I've definitely seen it. But what takes down this story? That he was in a relationship for two years. And with no knowledge of Alex's status, he has no real time to come to terms with it.
I would've liked it better had he known all along, or had his guesses, and came to terms with it on his own, instead of it being shoved in his face. Not trying to be funny, but having a homeboy to watch sports with, and down a few beers? Then having a girlfriend whom you're physically attracted to in one person? I don't know a lot of guys who would turn that down.
I think the language of the book is too lazy. It's as if none of the main characters can have a conversation without swearing. I know they're going through a lot, and trust me, I swear like a sailor, but it brought the book down for me. It made them come off as angry, vicious, and incapable of having an intelligent way to convey anger. There aren't as many grammatical errors and the point of view's are clear, but I think it's still lazy writing.
Sorry. Cant give any points on diversity. I don't pass them out like cookies. While Alex was a shifter, she could keep her privilege, and that just didn't sit well with me. And everyone in this book was white, as they weren't stated as much else. There was absolutely no intersectionality in this book. No disabled shifters, or queer characters, none of color, pretty much all lily white people who shout to the world "discrimination!" because their privilege is suddenly taken from them.
This book doesn't empower people actually dealing with these issues. You know why? Because anyone who actually is transgender is essentially background music. Their story isn't important, but it's great to draw from, right? Leads me to believe the writer has absolutely no experience with people that are different from them.
The transgender identity is complicated. But No female to male, or male to female, feels both. When you are transgender, you are essentially a male trapped in a female body, or a female trapped in a male body. You dont get to CHOOSE.
I think the title fits, and while I received it on Netgalley, I loved Netgalley's cover. It lead me to believe this story would be something more fantasy driven, but it is essentially a male-male love story, which I would've had no issue with with better research. Character names, just ok. Nothing revolutionary. I think I know what Alex looked like, but Damon, Im not sure. The author didn't describe people very well, so I assume they expect you to just picture the beautiful White Hollywood we've come to know.
Overall, I will take careful steps to gender ambiguous names when it comes to male-male love stories. Unless it's written by a man, or suggested from an actual queer male who thinks it's showcasing queer men or women right, I'll pass.
Was provided an e-copy from Netgalley
Posted March 30, 2014
I have read quite a few books by this author in the past, but I have to say with each book that I read from them, I get more and more excited about their future works!!!
This book is one that is so random and out there, it had me completely hooked once I started reading it. It felt like the pages couldn’t turn quick enough just because of everything that was happening during the course of the story. I think the story line of this book was just amazingly well done.
I think that the author did an amazing job writing the characters, especially with Alex’s character since that character was so complicated. One thing that I have always enjoyed with this author is how they include the secondary characters into the story as well. All of the characters in the story were described equally, and they were all given their own spotlight.
With Damon’s character, I give him mad props. And it was amazing what he did throughout the course of the book. If there would have been anyone else, I’m sure they wouldn’t have been able to handle what he was dealing with at the time.
My only complaint about the book would be with how much was going on, it felt like at time there were certain parts of the story that were sped through, and other parts were dragged out. It didn’t affect the story that much; I was still able to enjoy it.
Overall, I did enjoy this story immensely and I didn’t want it to end!
Reviewed by Crystal for Crystal’s Many Reviewers
*Copy provided for honest review*
Posted February 8, 2014
Review posted on Books on Silver Wings blog.
Alex and Damon are in love and making progress to be married one day as man and woman. One visit to Alex's parents, however,
caused Alex to be "static" or can't switch genders physically anymore. Damon doesn't know Alex is a "shifter" (of genders) so this is a
shock and a stain on their relationship. Damon loves Alex but he's not gay, so how can they be together?
I love the little details on how society is made for "static" people and the little tidbits on how society thinks that I've never thought about.
For explain, it's much easier for people to accept a masculine female rather than a feminine male. The story is very valuable and
provides a "safe" medium to explore and learn about the possibilities of transgender identity. The story idea itself is amazing. The
author's note at the end of the story explained where the idea came from and this exploration of human identity.
Onto the story itself, I really connected with Alex and can sympathize with his situation of being possibly static for life. I can understand
his stress, need for alcohol, and despair over a lost identity of self. On the other hand, Damon's ordeal with finding the woman he loves
in the man is well written and very heartwarming. As a reader, I learn about gender identity and transgender identity through Damon's
I'm surprised that this book end up being so uplifting and hopeful when it can so easily be a dark and depressing story. Alex deals with
his psychotic family who tries to "fix" him, the inability to shift into a gender that matches what he identifies with in his mind, depression,
and alcoholism on a daily basis. It's always a possibility for him to break down and commit suicide, but love always picks him up and
gives him hope. In addition to that, there is a community that supports shifters of gender and shows their support of Alex in his time of
Overall, this is an awe-inspiring story that presents an inside view of people who do not fit into society's neat boxes of gender
definitions. This is a worth-while read and still manages to be a very romantic story with a broader message.
*review copy received in exchange for an honest review*
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"Jumps in behide a lot of trees" ughthey are to close together UGH "jumps out and almost lands in the camp. Crap i dont want to get anymore blood on me. Ugh puts swords away. 'An autobot female stairs from the woods with bright neon blue eyes'Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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